The Woman in White
  • Publication Date: April 20, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781551116440 / 1551116448
  • 696 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Woman in White

  • Publication Date: April 20, 2006
  • ISBN: 9781551116440 / 1551116448
  • 696 pages; 5½" x 8½"

As the inscription on his tombstone reveals, Wilkie Collins wanted to be remembered as the “author of The Woman in White,” for it was this novel that secured his reputation during his lifetime. The novel begins with a drawing teacher’s eerie late-night encounter with a mysterious woman in white, and then follows his love for Laura Fairlie, a young woman who is falsely incarcerated in an asylum by her husband, Sir Percival Glyde, and his sinister accomplice, Count Fosco.

This edition returns to the original text that galvanized England when it was published in serial form in All the Year Round magazine in 1860. Three different prefaces Collins wrote for the novel, as well as two of his essays on the book’s composition, are reprinted, along with nine illustrations. The appendices include contemporary reviews, along with essays on lunacy, asylums, mesmerism, and the rights of women.


“This is an excellent edition of The Woman in White. It has been prepared with great thoroughness by two editors well versed in Collins studies and give the earliest published version of Collins’s text. It provides a lengthy introduction covering most of the important issues raised by the novel. The annotations have been carefully researched and the various appendices succeed in furnishing the reader with exactly the right sort of contextual and background matter to give a better understanding of the story.” — Andrew Gasson, Chairman, Wilkie Collins Society

“To convey the sensationalism of The Woman in White, Bachman and Cox wisely choose the original, serialized version as their copy text. A thoughtful introduction places the novel in context, explaining its importance to sensation fiction, outlining its concern with the problem of identity and with constructions of madness, and discussing its narrative structure as well as its later stage adaptation. The appendices are especially useful, with their material on Victorian gender ideologies and Victorian psychology, including letters, articles, and reports illuminating the ‘panic’ over false incarceration for insanity.” — Lillian Nayder, Bates College

List of Illustrations
William Wilkie Collins: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Woman in White

Appendix A: Prefaces to the Novel

  1. Preface, 1860, Sampson Low, Son & Co., Three-volume Edition
  2. Preface to the Present Edition, 1861, Sampson Low, Son & Co., One-volume Edition
  3. Preface. La Femme en Blanc, 1861, trans. E.D. Forgues, J. Hetzel (Paris)

Appendix B: Sample Page from All the Year Round

Appendix C: Commentary and Reviews of The Woman in White

  1. The Opinions of Charles Dickens
  2. Unsigned Review, Saturday Review (25 August 1860)
  3. Unsigned Review [E.S. Dallas], The Times (30 October 1860)
  4. “Awful Apparition,” Punch (6 April 1861)
  5. Unsigned Review [Mrs. Oliphant], Blackwood’s Magazine (May 1862)
  6. Edmund Yates, “Mr. Wilkie Collins in Gloucester Place,” in Celebrities at Home (1879)
  7. Wilkie Collins, “How I Write My Books: Related in a Letter to a Friend,” The Globe (26 November 1887)
  8. F.W. Waddy, “He Wrote ‘The Woman in White,’” Once a Week (24 February 1872)

Appendix D: The Woman Question

  1. From William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–69)
  2. From Sarah Stickney Ellis, The Women of England,Their Social Duties, and Domestic Habits (1839)
  3. From John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies, 1865 (1907)
  4. From Caroline Norton, A Letter to the Queen (1855)

Appendix E: The Lunacy Panic of 1858 and the Mesmeric Mania of 1851

  1. “Lady Bulwer Lytton,” The Times (19 July 1858)
  2. “Commission of Lunacy,” The Times (27 July 1858)
  3. [Editorial], The Times (28 July 1858)
  4. “The Tragedy of Acomb House,” The Sunday Times (1 August 1858)
  5. “The Mad-House System,” The Sunday Times (15 August 1858)
  6. “Lunatic Asylums and the Lunacy Laws (By a Physician),” The Times (19 August 1858)
  7. “Commission in Lunacy,” The Sunday Times (29 August 1858)
  8. “Law and Lunacy,” Punch (25 January 1862)
  9. “Mesmerism; Its Dangers and Curiosities,” Punch (24 February 1844)
  10. Anonymous, “Electro-biology,” Westminster Review (1851)
  11. Wilkie Collins, “Magnetic Evenings At Home” (Letter I), The Leader (17 January 1852)

Select Bibliography

Maria K. Bachman is an Associate Professor of English at Coastal Carolina University.

Don Richard Cox is a Professor of English at the University of Tennessee. They are the editors of the Broadview edition of Wilkie Collins’s Blind Love (2003).